Imperial Grunts: On the Ground withthe American Military, from Mongoliato the Philippines to Iraq and Beyondby Robert D. Kaplan
It is the dawn of the 21st century, and the United States has appropriatedthe entire Earth. So journalist Robert Kaplan writes in his paean to theAmerican fighting man and woman, Imperial Grunts. The U.S. has quietly--with little public debate--forged an empire that is ready to flood the mostobscure areas of it with troops at a moments notice, writes Kaplan, acorrespondent for The Atlantic Monthly magazine who has written 10earlier books on foreign affairs and travel, including the acclaimed BalkanGhosts. Imperial Grunts is Kaplans account of his travels to the frontiers ofthe U.S. imperium. From the dustbowl of northern Yemen to the coca fieldsof Colombia and the insurgent hotbed of Fallujah, Kaplan takes readers tothe war-torn edges of the U.S. empire and visits with front-line grunts whoguard it and try to expand its reach. Welcome to Injun Country, is thecatchphrase Kaplan hears from all the U.S. soldiers, marines, airmen, andsailors we meet. In the view of American troops, they are taming an unrulyfrontier in the tradition of General George Custer. We all know whathappened to Custer and, later, to the Native Americans whom the 7thCavalry was sent out to pacify. But far from criticizing that mission orfinding in the analogy any cautionary lesson, Kaplan is an enthusiasticcheerleader for what he baldly calls American imperialism. He sees it ashumanitarian and righteous and seems to never meet a Green Beret ormarine he does not idolize. To Kaplan, U.S. imperialism is unquestionablyselfless and heroic, trying only to bring a little taste of freedom to thehuddled masses of the world. Imperial Grunts works well as a traveloguebut fails to provide deeper insights--or opposing views--about the complexand fascinating places he explores. --Alex RoslinHectic read, absorbing, masterfully told. This is one writer i am going tofollow from now on. Whatever you think you are not going to go boredreading his stories. I was happily surprised to notice his lack of arrogance -as one would expect to find from a reporter among this class of Americanheroes. The stars are the real soldiers, the military. Kaplan is there alright,but in the background.